Rio Open Alcaraz, Norrie reach semis, remain on course for a rematch of Buenos Aires final


Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz continued his perfect record in 2023 with a fighting 6-4, 7-6(0) win over Serbian Dusan Lajovic and advanced to the semifinals of the Rio Open here on Friday.

The 19-year-old Spaniard, the former World No. 1 who has recently returned from an injury break, rallied from 2-4 down in both the first and second sets before putting away the World No. 80 for the second time in as many weeks, having beaten the 29-year-old 6-4, 6-2 in the Buenos Aires quarterfinals.

Second seed Cameron Norrie kept alive the possibility of a final showdown with Alcaraz for the second consecutive week after he rallied from a set down to defeat Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

But Norrie will be looking for a good start on Saturday against Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who reached his second consecutive semifinal after taking out countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Despite hitting 32 winners to Lajovic’s 13 and winning 16 of 17 net approaches, Alcaraz will not be entirely happy with his performance after forcing himself to work harder than perhaps needed for victory. In addition to going down breaks in both sets and making 25 unforced errors, the Spaniard was broken at 5-all in the second despite holding a 40/0 lead in the game.

The former World No. 1 was forced to save a set point with some inspired play at the net in the following game before running away with the win in the tie-break.

Closing in on back-to-back titles after triumphing in Buenos Aires last week in his season debut, the World No. 2 will meet Chilean qualifier Nicolas Jarry on Saturday.

Should he win his eighth tour-level title Sunday, Alcaraz will join World No. 1 Novak Djokovic with 7,070 points in the ATP Rankings. But the 10-time Australian Open champion will remain atop the rankings because he has earned more points at mandatory events during the past 52 weeks.

Earlier, Briton Norrie had a mixed day on serve. He won a commanding 84 percent of points on his first serve but had trouble at times with his toss and threw in seven double faults, including two on-match points in the final game of the match.

Meanwhile, Chilean qualifier Jarry used his heavy groundstrokes to rip 28 winners to Sebastian Baez’s six in a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over the two-time ATP Tour Argentine titlist. Jarry, who has not dropped a set this week, came into the tournament ranked 139, but has surged 54 places in the ATP Live Rankings to No. 85.


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